As Americans Consume Mexican Blood Drugs, Mexico President Hints Legalization is Necessary
In a speech to the Americas Society and Council of the Americas in New York on Monday, Mexican President Felipe Calderon hinted at a solution to the drug wars - legalization. The subtlely suggested, bold idea should come as no surprise. Americans' demand for drugs leaves a long blood trail in Mexico.
"We are living in the same building. And our neighbour is the largest consumer of drugs in the world. And everybody wants to sell him drugs through our doors and our windows," said Calderon, suggesting that, contrary to U.S. policy, untreated, addicted (or just plain recreational drug using) Americans create the demand Mexican traffickers supply.
And while America wages its own incarceration-based "war on drugs" here, Mexico is where the real battles are fought. In 2006, drug violence became such a problem that Calderon sent the army to fight against drug warriors. Since then, 42,000 people have died in the violence U.S. behavior encourages.
"We must do everything to reduce demand for drugs," Calderon added, "But if the consumption of drugs cannot be limited, then decision-makers must seek more solutions -- including market alternatives -- in order to reduce the astronomical earnings of criminal organizations."
Calderon did not expand on this idea, but market alternatives could only mean one thing - the legalization and regulation of drugs. By cutting the profits of traffickers, a legal market would reduce the incentive to sell drugs, thus curbing the violence associated with gang territory. But Obama's pursuit of the drug war, perhaps best epitomized by his unsubstantiated claim that marijuana has "no accepted medical value," suggests that legalization is not in the near future.
Treating drug addicts is another option that could be implemented alongside legalization, as well as independently. To reduce the number of drug users supplying the market for Mexican drug traffickers, opening-up free or affordable treatment centers could simultaneously treat a disease (addiction) and reduce crime, both here and abroad. But implementing such programs would require a major shift in the way we think about drugs and trafficking, one that must move away from the idea that Americans consume drugs because Mexicans bring them here, and move towards the truth that Mexicans bring drugs into the U.S. because Americans - many of whom are untreated addicts - demand them.